Have you ever gone on a summer picnic when there weren't any ants around? They seem to be everywhere. Why not spend some time exploring ants this spring? Here are a few questions to answer and observations to make:
1. Watch a single ant for as long as you can. Write down what it does.
2. Turn over some stones or boards until you find an ant colony. The rice shaped white objects in the colony are pupae. What does the colony do with these when you disturb the colony by lifting the stone or board up? Can you find smaller white eggs? What does the colony do with these? Make sure you put back all rocks and boards the way they were.
3. How many different sizes and colors of ants can you find in your yard? Each one of these is a different species. What is a species?
4. How many different animals live in your area and eat ants?
5. If anyone in your neighborhood has peonies in flower, look at the flowers and flower buds. Do you find any ants? Talk to someone who grows peonies. Do they agree with your observations about ants and peonies? What do you think is going on here? See if you can find out.
6. If there is some sandy soil around, look for small pits in the sand shaped a little like the inside of a funnel. These are made by antlions. Look up antlions and find out what they eat and how they get their food.
7. Bend a wire coat hanger into a ring. Toss it out onto a lawn. Can you find any ants inside the circle of the coat hanger? Try it again. How often do you "lasso an ant?"
8. Why do you find so many ants and so few uncles? Find or make up other ant jokes.
9. What questions do you have about ants? How can you answer these questions?
10. Gakken's Photo Encyclopedia "Ants" has lots of information about ants. The Ant Cam has Web cameras on ant farms.